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The 7 Core Services of Inbound Marketing and Sales

The proven methodology for the digital age

INTRODUCTION

Since 2006, inbound marketing has been the most effective marketing method for doing business online. Instead of the old outbound marketing methods of buying ads, direct mail, buying email lists, and generally spraying for leads, inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that attracts the people who will want your company and products.

Today, the average decision maker is doing most of his or her buying research online, long before they contact you. In fact, according to a white paper authored by Google and CEB:

“B2B customers reported to being nearly 60% through the sales process before engaging a sales rep, regardless of price point. More accurately, 57% of the sales process just disappeared.” - The Digital Evolution in B2B Marketing

This is why a comprehensive approach to offering inbound marketing and sales services is so important for your agency. By the time your clients get to the hard sell, the process is almost over. You need to provide a strategy that guides the customer’s decision before they reach the hard sell, showing them every step of the way why your client is the best one to meet their needs.

If your inbound strategy is inefficient or incomplete, you won’t be able to accomplish this. If you don’t build the necessary foundation first, the ultimate sales pitch will be less likely to land successfully, and you won’t produce the results that your client expects.

If, however, you offer sales support services in addition to a comprehensive, fully realized inbound marketing plan, you’ll be able to produce a better ROI for your clients, improve your own track record, and ultimately increase your own revenue and your clients’. In fact, businesses with tightly aligned sales and marketing teams generate on average 208% more revenue from marketing.

So how do you create a comprehensive inbound marketing and sales strategy that will drive your clients’ sales? There are seven core services that your agency needs to provide. In this ebook, we’ll take a comprehensive look at each of them and show you how best to use them to your, and your clients', advantage.

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ATTRACTING MORE QUALIFIED VISITORS

The first step in any inbound marketing strategy is to drive customers to find your clients online and make them aware of their brand. Perhaps your client already has a Facebook page that they update occasionally, and maybe even a blog with a few posts. Or maybe they’re starting entirely from scratch. Either way, it’s up to you to lay the foundation for their inbound marketing strategy by creating a strong online presence for them that will drive customers their way.

1) Search Engine Optimization

Generating more traffic for a website is like baking: your client or prospect will need lots of complementary ingredients that work cohesively to get a good result. There is no single tactic proven to produce worthwhile results by itself. Rather, it’s a set of strategies and supporting tools working together. Those tactics include…

You lay the groundwork for success by hashing out a solid search engine optimization strategy with your prospect or client. Meeting or exceeding traffic goals is impossible without this.

Targeted keywords, based on what your client’s potential customers are interested in, are placed in on-page content. This way, when those customers search for those terms going forward, your client’s website will be displayed among the results.

You need to have strategic conversations around finding the right keywords and phrases to target, and do significant upfront research to ensure that the keywords you’re focused on are attainable and worthwhile. Identifying key bloggers and industry influencers with whom to build relationships and create back-links is necessary to increase the site’s authority with search engines. Monitoring page rankings and traffic is also critical, as analysis shows you what’s working, so you can adjust your tactics accordingly.

Each page on a website is another opportunity for a potential customer to find your client. The more pages your client has, the better. Enter the magic of content creation.

If your client or prospect has a dynamic business with a long list of services and products, but doesn’t have individual pages discussing each one, create and optimize web pages for them. These pages will help improve rankings for branded terms, as well as key industry descriptors and terms.

2) Blogging

Your clients or prospects will also need to understand the importance of blogging. While product pages are limited to the actual number of products they offer, topics for blog posts are infinite. Regular and frequent blog posts show the site is active, current, and “fresh,” which helps boost the site’s ranking on search engines, according to Moz. And blog posts influence purchase decisions because you’re leveraging customer language and topics.

“Regular and frequent blog posts show the site is active, current, and 'fresh,' which helps boost the site’s ranking on search engines.”

3) Social Media Sharing

If a blog gets posted in the forest, will anyone read it? Point being, although lots of time and effort can get spent creating keyword-rich blog content, creating and optimizing content isn’t enough on its own. Your client can’t simply sit around waiting for customers to come to them. They need to be actively promoting their blog. That’s where social media comes in. Establishing a presence for your clients on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social platforms gives them an outlet to share their blog with people who are interested in their company and products, or in their industry in general. What’s more, social media provides a perfect opportunity for their audience to share links they find interesting with their own social circles, thus extending your client’s reach even further.

If you’re an agency with social media campaigning skills, you’ll use clever and provocative language and imagery to post content on networks such as Facebook and Twitter and generate interested clicks, and links, back to a client’s site. At the very least, whenever you include social sharing functionality on the site and blog, others can easily share what they just read directly with their followers just by clicking.

CONVERTING VISITORS TO LEADS

Take this scenario: all static pages on your client’s site have been optimized with targeted long-tail keywords, and rankings are improving as a result. You’ve developed an editorial calendar your client is sticking to, and three to four blog posts get published each week. You’re sharing those links in social media, and have client team members actively participating in online conversations around keywords and phrases.

Things are happening. Monthly traffic has started to point up and to the right.

But actual sales and revenue are still in the same place. What’s the problem? Well, generating traffic is only the first step. Those website visitors need to be converted into usable leads, which can then be converted into sales. How is this done? By creating landing pages, with premium content designed for lead generation.

What Does This Consist Of?

You’ve successfully generated a significant amount of web traffic for your client. Now, you need to separate the wheat from the chaff, and find out who’s really interested in what your client has to offer, and who’s just passing through.

4) Content Creation

Taking what you understand of their client’s ideal buyer persona, develop more premium content offers: things like white papers, ebooks, webinars, and other content that goes into more depth about the specific areas of their business. Often, these offers help solve a problem for the customer, or provide a step by step process for how to do something that they need. This content is generally provided free of charge, but in order to access it, the customer needs to register with your client’s website, providing their name, e-mail address, and other contact information.

These offers move potential customers deeper into the sales funnel. If they’re willing to take the extra step of downloading the content and registering with the site, it shows that they have an active interest in that topic.

When a visitor fills out the form to access this content, a lead is created. You can then use what you know about that content, and your client’s target buyer prospect, to build out both an electronic and human follow-up process.

If you who want to convert leads from traffic successfully, you must be able to craft compelling premium content and offers, landing pages, and call-to-action (CTA) buttons for your clients.

For businesses seriously considering their website as an enabler of growth, the efficiency in this process can be quickly understood. And from a sales perspective, leads generated from premium educational, persona-targeted content are hugely productive because that persona’s content needs were met.

TURNING LEADS INTO CUSTOMERS

You need to work with your clients to build lots of targeted content if you want to get your leads converting. From a “leads into customers” perspective, it’s important that the content spans the length and breadth of the buyer persona’s sales funnel. Educational information such as industry trends and “how-to” blog posts are proven winners for the top of the funnel.

However, the middle part of the persona’s buying journey calls for content that is tied more closely to your client’s products and services, and is delivered to them in the format they prefer, wherever they happen to be looking, on any device — in order to turn a lead into a customer.

5) Marketing Automation

All leads who have downloaded your client’s content must either have a human follow-up with them personally, or an automated process must do so. Automated follow-ups can be used in moderation, but in general, a live person is more likely to reach a potential customer and connect with them.

Some of that follow-up should be deeper content and offers, which invite them to access more of your client’s content. Let the quality of those leads set the priority for how deeply you follow-up.

This is great because these leads keep self-qualifying whenever they opt into these offers! The offers are typically presented through email marketing and marketing automation. They’re  also presented on revisits to your website. And if you are using HubSpot’s content optimization system (COS) and workflows, you personalize a visitor’s experience based on their past actions.

Specialized content will also most likely be available for different segments of leads to see, which you can often determine by their original conversion event. Using the COS and workflows, you’ll offer them additional relevant content that answers the different questions they’ll have at the various stages in their buying journey. Such lead nurturing and segmented email campaigns are used to better target leads and are intended to generate sales.

If you want your efforts to be indisputably connected to sales and revenue goals (and we strongly suggest you do), you must be able to connect the dots between how content feeds and nurtures leads at all stages of the sales funnel.

6) CRM Implementation

So you've generated traffic, converted it into leads, and nurtured those leads into qualified leads for your clients sales team. Now what? The days of charging clients for clicks and impressions is far behind us. Today, businesses expect closed loop reporting on their marketing activities. And with the right tools, agencies can start tracking ROI from the top of the funnel all the way down to new customers generated at the bottom. How?

A 2014 study by Nucleus Research found that for every $1 spent on customer relationship management (CRM) software, a company saw a $8.76 increase in revenue. Yet, less than half the 140K respondents to the 2016 State of Inbound report use any CRM software. That means agencies have a major opportunity to increase their value proposition by offering CRM implementation services.

Technical complexity and a lack of resources (employees and time) for the initial setup are common blockers to CRM adoption -- this is where your agency comes in.

Initial CRM Setup

Setting up a CRM for a client requires a complete understanding of their sales process. Conduct interviews with individuals at every level of the sales organization to clarify what information is important to each cohort, and then customize the CRM’s contacts, companies, and deals stages/objects to fit these needs.

Perhaps the biggest anxiety for clients is losing important historical data during the transfer to a new CRM. You can ease these concerns by being transparent with clients about the steps to importing their data into the new system.

Once a client’s historical information has been successfully uploaded into the CRM, the final step is making this information relevant and accessible to every individual in the sales organization. To do this your agency should build:

  • Custom lead views for sales reps
  • Pipeline forecasting dashboards that help managers anticipate monthly revenue
  • Rep productivity reports for managers that show lead work rate and response time

Building these custom features into your client’s CRM leads perfectly into an ongoing retainer-based offering of CRM maintenance. If you’re looking for a free CRM to get clients started, you can try out HubSpot’s free CRM.

Ongoing CRM Maintenance

With so many sales reps and managers working within the CRM daily, it’s easy for things to get cluttered -- fast. Custom objects, new deal stages, and a slew of unique reports can clog the system and make it difficult for employees to find exactly what they are looking for, quickly.

At large corporations, CRM audits are typically run in-house by a sales operations team. However, many small and medium size businesses don’t have dedicated operations departments. This a huge opportunity for marketing agencies to swoop in for a retainer-based service offering for CRM maintenance.

7) Sales Enablement Services

Sales Enablement. You've heard it before, perhaps you've even pitched it to clients, but do you know exactly what it means? Well, sales enablement is a broad term often used to describe resources or programs which help enable the efficiency of a sales team. You might be unsure what it means because you have seen it take many forms. Sales enablement services can range from building email templates and sequences, to driving to bottom funnel resources and product documentation.

Not only that, but numerous applications now enable prospects to book time directly on sales reps’ calendars. Talk about a sales enablement services win!

Your agency can easily run a content audit of the client’s well-trafficked, bottom-of-funnel existing web pages, and find opportunities to allow direct bookings with sales.

On pages likely to attract eager buyers -- for example, the pricing page or a ‘Contact Us’ page -- replace existing CTA buttons with a link to a sales reps calendar.

Meetings booked through a landing page cut down a sales rep’s prospecting time, and links direct ROI to your agency’s efforts. It’s a win-win. 

Give prospects an easy way to book meetings without the back and forth. Your calendar stays full, and you stay productive.

It’s a common assumption that the marketing team produces the majority of content at a business. It turns out this simply isn’t true: According to Ducurated’s 2016 State of Sales Enablement report, marketing typically produces about 30% of company content, while Sales is responsible for about 40%.

So what kind of content is Sales creating? Sales reps produce hundreds of email templates each year. Good templates radically improve prospecting speed, while poorly crafted templates quickly destroy credibility. Chances are, your client has both good and bad email templates floating around their sales teams.

Conducting a review of sales email templates and surfacing the highest performing content to all team members can quickly improve the efficiency of a sales organization.

When creating and auditing sales templates, use a software that provides open and click-through rates data of individual emails.  Look for copy trends among the highest performing content.

Email trends change significantly over time. Agencies should set up a retainer-based service with clients to review email template performance every quarter.

MEASURING, ANALYZING AND INTERPRETING

It’s vital to track your results throughout the entire marketing process. Having clear analytics that show the ROI of your efforts not only helps you improve your strategy; it also helps you illustrate your agency's value to your client.

Do you have a clear picture of your client’s sales funnel? At what rate are organic leads converting into customers compared to leads acquired via paid advertising campaigns? Of the people visiting your client’s website every month, what percentage of them become qualified leads, and how many of them become new customers.

Knowing and understanding this information can give you a better idea of what’s working, and what’s not, in your client's’ inbound marketing and sales strategy, and help you refine your marketing strategy based on the results. Your clients will rely on you to track all of these factors and many others in order to help them improve tactics and generate more revenue for their company.

With HubSpot, you’ll have a clean and easy view into all the data and reporting necessary to quickly quantify your return on client spend. And it’s not just reporting. The all-in-one software approach allows agencies to streamline internal processes and increase their operational efficiency. Instead of relying on multiple tools to accomplish both marketing and sales objectives, HubSpot gives you a 360 view into all areas of marketing and sales, from one convenient dashboard.

For more in-depth information, be sure to read our ebook, Prove Inbound ROI by Reporting Results

CONCLUSION

Inbound marketing and sales is a seismic shift in the way businesses are marketing and selling themselves. When you build out your firm’s capabilities to reflect inbound marketing and sales' seven core services, your agency will be poised to capitalize on the emerging needs of businesses using their marketing dollars online.

The return on investment businesses are getting from inbound marketing and sales is huge. So too are the opportunities for marketing agencies who develop services packages to deliver the work.

With HubSpot and the seven core services, you also remove the possibility of any disjointedness in your pitches and client strategy planning, as together they combine into a logical and powerful process.

How is this accomplished? Inbound marketing and sales are implemented through a series of tactics driven by specialized software.

When orchestrated in unison, the tactics and software can attract qualified prospects, convert leads, and close customers. (Or in sales terms, connect qualified leads, explore opportunities, and advise customers.)

Make no mistake. The “in unison” piece is a daunting challenge. So much so that, should you pitch a strategy to a prospect that relies on using several different software platforms, your agency’s effectiveness and expertise would come into question. Multiple software platforms mean decreased efficiency and increased costs as you try to manage them all at once. Rather than improving your clients’ revenues, this juggling act will only end up damaging them, and you in the process.

This is why it’s essential to perform all your essential marketing services through a single, all-encompassing platform, such as Hubspot. Many of inbound marketing and sales best practices, and the foundational elements that the seven core services are based upon, are built into HubSpot Software. HubSpot is designed to give you the tools to put both effectiveness and efficiency issues to rest.

With the HubSpot Marketing Platform you can create, automate, measure and optimize all of your online marketing in one place. Create search-friendly blog posts, build landing pages without IT, trigger automated email campaigns and workflows, and personalize every experience with dynamic content that changes with a customer’s context.

HubSpot Sales is designed for sales teams who want to sell more, work less, and make their process more human by giving you a full suite of tools to scale up your sales without adding to your workload. You can put prospecting on autopilot, create and test email templates and know the instant a lead opens your email, and follow up when you’re already on their mind.

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